Date of Award

Summer 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Dr. Daniel W. Capron

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Dr. Randolph C. Arnau

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Dr. Nora E. Charles

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Dr. Richard Mohn

Committee Member 4 School



Nocturnal panic attacks refer to panic attacks that occur out of a sleeping state with no obvious cause, resulting in awakening at the peak of a panic attack. Nocturnal panic affects roughly half of patients with panic disorder as well as individuals with other psychological disorders such as PTSD. Prior research has suggested that experiencing a traumatic event may lead to the development of nocturnal panic attacks. The current study sought to expand upon the extant literature related to the role of trauma in nocturnal panic by collecting a comprehensive trauma and panic history in order to establish a timeline of events. Individuals who experience nocturnal panic attacks were expected to report more lifetime traumatic events, with interpersonal traumas and childhood traumas being reported more frequently compared to individuals who panic only while awake or do not experience panic attacks. An online community sample (Nocturnal Panic N = 73; Daytime Panic N = 80; Without Panic N = 63) completed self-report measures about panic attack history, trauma history, current PTSD symptoms, fear of sleep, dissociation, and intolerance of uncertainty. Results showed that the daytime panic group reported more lifetime, interpersonal, and childhood traumas than the nocturnal and without panic groups. Further, only half of the nocturnal panic group reported experiencing a traumatic event prior to their first nocturnal panic attack. Latent profile analysis revealed a three-profile solution illustrating different reactions to trauma in terms of the number of traumas reported and current symptomatology. Finally, discriminant analysis using the latent profile results, demographic variables, and self-report measures was moderately successful in predicting panic group membership. These results demonstrate that the number, type, and timing of traumatic events is insufficient to explain differences between nocturnal and daytime panic groups, highlighting the need for further research.